Thursday, August 11, 2016

Stalking Heron and Walking Catfish

For the past couple of weeks south Florida has deviated from the customary pattern of afternoon showers and thunderstorms. To escape the worst of the punishing solar radiation, we often enter the gate to the wetlands while it is still dark:

Gate to wetlands HDR 20160722

Sunrise HDR 20160722

There have been unusually high temperatures and humidity, and rain clouds regularly pop up overnight and in the morning hours. This was the view over the local wetlands just after sunrise:

View to west HDR 20160804

Native Firebush flourishes in this climate, attracting butterflies and (in winter) hummingbirds. An ant seeks its nectar:

Ant on firebush 20160730

Water levels in the lake are rather high, discouraging long-legged waders. An immature Little Blue Heron transitioning from its all-white first year plumage into the dark adult plumage was often the only wader in sight:

Little Blue Heron HDR 03-20160726

Killdeer have finished breeding but occasionally forage along the lake:

Killdeer 20160729

One morning we were pleased to find two Least Sandpipers moving along with a Kildeer (out of focus in the background, to show size disparity):

Least Sandpiper and Killdeer HDR 20160723

Least Sandpiper HDR 20160723

Several mornings just around sunrise two Bald Eagles, an adult and a juvenile, passed overhead from the direction of the nest in Pembroke Pines, about 1 1/2 miles to the NW. The very dark young bird is almost surely the lone eaglet which fledged from the second brood after the first brood and its own nest-mate were lost:

Bald Eagle juvenile 02-20160729

Once, the adult deviated to make a pass over the lake. It splashed down but failed to catch a fish:

Bald Eagle adult 04-20160729

Bald Eagle 04-20160726

Another morning a Great Blue Heron flew in and then struck an unusual pose. I call it the "Trench Coat Flasher" posture, which probably serves the purpose of drying its feathers or assists in thermoregulation::

Great Blue Heron in flight 02-20160727

Great Blue Heron trench coat HDR 20160727

Back home another (or possibly the same) Great Blue Heron was loafing in our back lawn most ot the day. When I went out on the patio to start roasting a chicken on the grill, the heron strolled away but soon returned, allowing me to take its picture:

Great Blue Heron 20160804

Later in the evening, Mary Lou noticed it was subduing  a large fish: 

Great Blue Heron with Walking Catfish 20160804

I got my camera and watched the heron from inside the house as it walked from left to right, directly past our patio. 

Great Blue Heron with Walking Catfish 3-20160804

I recognized the fish as a catfish. Its four pairs of feelers and eel-like elongated dorsal and anal fins identified it as an exotic Walking Catfish (Clarias batrachus). Not wanting to disturb the bird, I continued to shoot through the windows. It finally stopped and swallowed the fish. Unfortunately, this took place behind our clump of Lemongrass, so I had difficulty  focusing manually: 

Great Blue Heron eating Walking Catfish 20160804

Great Blue Heron swallowing Walking Catfish 20160804

After it had eaten the fish, the heron drank water and then continued resting quite motionless at the edge of the lake, remaining there until well after dark.

Great Blue Heron after eating Walking Catfish 2-20160804

Read more about the Walking Catfish AT THIS LINK

"Walking catfish possess a large accessory breathing organ which enables them to breath atmospheric oxygen.  They are well known for their ability to "walk" on land for long distances, especially during or after rainfall...  

"In the early 1960's, the walking catfish was imported to Florida from Thailand for the aquarium trade.  The first introductions apparently happened in the mid 60's when adult fish, imported to be brood stock, escaped from Penagra Aquarium in Broward County and/or from a truck transporting brood fish between Dade and Broward counties.  

"In 1967, the state of Florida banned the importation and possession of walking catfish.  However, this led to another release of the fish into the wild.  Fish farmers in Tampa Bay who possessed the fish purposefully released them so that they would not be found in violation of the new law.  

"In 1968, this species was only found in three south Florida counties.  However, by 1978, the walking catfish had spread to 20 counties in the southern half of the peninsula.  The fish accomplished this migration by using the many hundreds of miles of interconnected canals across south Florida and by moving over land, typically during rainy nights.  By the mid 1970's, the walking catfish was established in Everglades National Park and in Big Cypress National Preserve..."

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display



  1. Hello, Ken! Beautiful sky shots. I love the cute Killdeer and Least Sandpiper. Awesome captures of the Eagles and the GB Heron. Wonderful photos. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

  2. wow great photos! i love the one of the heron standing straight up!

  3. Some wonderful shots. Hard to believe a bird can eat something so big.

    I had a fav today...that first with the killdeer.

  4. You did so well photographing the events! My graduated glasses lenses give me grief!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  5. Another interesting post. Thanks for bringing me to FL while I visit in OH. There are not many birds here. I now know why birding folks flock to FL.

  6. Gorgeous photos, Kenneth! Here in Montreal, Canada it is also very hot and humid and even some of the flowers are suffering...they are drying out. Take good care of yourself.

  7. That poor catfish....but then it is the survival of the fittest. The herons do have to eat. He definitely got on big mouthful. No wonder he need water after that meal. Your pictures are just beautiful, and where you live must be in a heavenly spot. Herons in your backyard. That is amazing. genie

  8. Hello Ken!:) Another great post with wonderful captures of all the birds and interesting information about the Walking Catfish. We eat Catfish, but it's not the walking kind. I love the lighting in both the Little Blue Heron and Killdeer shots, just beautiful images. What a privilege to be able to watch the Great Blue Heron from your garden and watch it through your window affording fantastic photographic opportunities. Thanks for sharing.:)

  9. Holy Catfish! I couldn't believe that a heron could eat something that large. Amazing skywatch images. See you next week.
    JM, IL

  10. Super enjoyable post. The Sunrise shots are so pretty. I like the area you live in. - Cool to see the Bald Eagles and the Heron eating the catfish. I don't think I've ever seen a Walking Catfish before.

  11. Beautiful collection you have made, and I love the Heron, fabulous.

  12. love how the herons can swallow such a large fish! beautiful little blue 'teen', too! great skies.

  13. Lovely nature shots. Thanks.


  14. The heron and catfish shots are captivating!! Great photos.

  15. the beauty in the first 3 sky shots are stunnning and of course it is w wonderful to see all the different birds you photographed but ihe Heron with the Catfish is proceless

  16. Outstanding photographs! Always a pleasure to visit and see what treats you have in store for us. Thank you for sharing with Today's Flowers. Happy weekend to you :).

  17. Beautiful post, great shots and words. I used to live in S Florida but moved to Tampa Bay 8 years ago. I still miss South Florida. Thanks for taking me on a visit.

  18. Beautiful view and lovely birds.

  19. great photographs as usual!! Love the heron series!

  20. Lovely sky shots and as always the birds are captivating- well caught for the heron/catfish ones! They are superb and so interesting....

  21. Beautiful captures of catching fish! Clever to escape the hot and and stormy afternoons! Beautiful shot of the clouds!

  22. Fabulous reflections but that heron with the fish is a superb shot.

  23. Great shots! I love the eagle over the water and the reflection is one of your best yet!

  24. Hello, great post and photos! The heron shots with the fish are awesome. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  25. Wonderful shots!
    You may also like to share your link on the Saturday Silhouettes meme:

  26. so love the sandpiper and killdeer and colors

  27. Magnificent nature shots and those heron photos are delightful!

    Wishing you happy days ~ ^_^

  28. I imagine, with the monstrous size of his catch, he HAD to stay motionless to digest all that! Wow.

    Beautiful sunrise images...and as always GREAT birds!!

    Thank you kindly for sharing this with us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin''s always appreciated,

  29. The idea of a walking catfish is really creepy to me. But these are grand photos!
    Thanks so much for sharing at

  30. Wonderful scenery and amazing captures of beautiful birds in flight!
    Hard to believe a Heron could swallow such a large fish, stunning!
    Have a great Wednesday.

  31. Stunning reflection!! And I have only seen a heron once (in Flrida) so I really am enjoying your other pics!

  32. Wow - those shots are simply stunning!

  33. Wonderful collection of photos. I was amazed that Heron could swallow such a large fish. I guess that Catfish won't be doing any more walking. The Trench Coat Flasher Pose shot is a marvellous photo. I especially love the Eagle & the Heron flying low over the water shots.

  34. Wonderful! Beautiful!
    I never tire of seeing the Herons, and your other bird photos are great, too!
    Lovely sky shots!

  35. Wonderful images. My favourite is the Least Sandpiper.

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